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April 13, 2006 adds aerial real estate photos from Microsoft Virtual Earth

Posted by David Hunter at 6:00 PM ET.

Press release:

Consumer real estate Web site today announced the addition of 45-degree, low-altitude aerial photos to its home valuation and data with the integration of bird’s eye images from Microsoft’s Virtual Earth platform. The images, a first for any consumer real estate site, provide stunning views of a home and its surroundings from four directions, giving home buyers another valuable piece of information about a potential home purchase.

The images are shown on Zillow home details pages, alongside satellite maps, parcel information, Zestimate™ home valuations and individual home data. Currently, bird’s eye imagery can be found on home searches in major cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston and Las Vegas. Additional coverage will be added later this year.

Bird’s eye images, taken by a Microsoft partner, Pictometry, one of the world’s largest digital, oblique aerial photography companies, are captured via cameras pointed at a 45-degree angle from low-flying airplanes. These photos are then shown on as 360-degree panoramas that can be viewed from four compass directions. Bird’s eye images are shown alongside Zillow’s satellite and street maps to give customers a much richer picture of the individual home and neighborhood.

Allison Linn at the Associated Press has more details:

The technology, which is the same offering found on Microsoft’s Live Local mapping site, provides photographic search results that are, in some areas, close-up enough to make out individual cars or the state of a neighbor’s hedge.

Such pictures could be useful for would-be home buyers eager to know if their prospective abode abuts, say, a lovely park, or a wrecking yard.

Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s chief financial officer, said there would be no option for homeowners to remove their house from the site.

He acknowledged that Microsoft’s technology, which is still in test form, does not always show the correct house — an issue that may be less problematic for someone searching out driving directions that for a person who is considering buying a property.

Redmond-based Microsoft’s technology covers only some metropolitan areas right now, but the company is aiming to expand its coverage by the end of the year.

Rascoff said the multiyear licensing deal isn’t exclusive, meaning competitors can strike similar deals with Microsoft. He declined to provide other details on the deal.

At least one competing product,, also offers photographic search results; it uses online mapping technology from Microsoft’s rival, Google Inc.

Filed under Alliances, Coopetition, Google, Live Search Maps, MSN, Microsoft, Virtual Earth, Windows Live, Zillow

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